Scent Trailing

Finding You!

Have fun teaching your dog the basics of trailing a human scent – starting with you! This reward-based, positive class runs for 4 weeks. It will give you and your dog the basic skills and confidence needed to follow a newly placed trail. You’ll also be set up to continue with more advanced scent trailing classes.

Although every dog is equipped with an ability to follow scent, this class provides you with a way to ask your dog to follow a particular scent. We start out slowly – helping the dog confidently understand that we want him/her to find us. The training is entirely based on turning the art of trailing into a game, so dogs love this “work!”

It’s a great class for dogs who are shy as the training is always positive. If a dog struggles with a concept, it’s time to back up and find something he/she understands.

These skills are useful to help dogs locate us during times we loose sight of each other in the woods. Interestingly, some dogs who haven’t had this training default to listening for us in order to find us – which isn’t always effective. The dogs with scent trailing experience choose to find their people with their noses!

And, I’m not sure how many of you happened to hear Fresh Air (a NPR program), but here’s the link to the program about dogs and their amazing noses. It is during the 2nd half of Fresh Air starting at around 29 minutes in (on October 8, 2016). Thanks to scent training class clients Penny and Fred for sharing this with us!

Outline of Program

We’ll cover the basics of how to let a dog know we’d like them to follow a human’s scent. We start with the easy step of getting a dog to run after his/her human and “find” them behind a bush or tree – and get rewarded with playing or a favorite treat for this!

We then start putting up a barrier so the dog can only see his/her human start to run away. This gets the dog to utilize his/her nose to complete the search. Eventually, we’ll be asking the dog to find the person without any visual clues. We’ll then start adding complications such as distance of trail, age of trail, and contamination of the trail.

Every time the dog “finds” you, he/she gets tons of praise and fun games or food!


For this class, you’ll need a dog who is comfortable on a leash, who is used to traveling and staying in a car/crate unattended, and – most importantly – is either really excited about toys and games, or really excited about food!

Please contact us if you have any questions about whether or not your dog is appropriate for this class – most dogs are!

That being said, there are some challenges with short-nosed dogs (such as Pugs, Boston Terriers, and Boxers) since the nose work can be intense at times. If you have a breed or mixed breed with a short-nose, please talk to your veterinarian about the appropriateness of taking this class.


Equipment List

Please make sure you are appropriately dressed for being outside during the class. We might be in slightly wet areas, too, so bring waterproof shoes/boots.

You’ll want to set up your vehicle so that your dog has a place to hang out in between his/her training trials. Please bring water for your dog (as well as yourself).

Please also:

  • Bring a harness for your dog – this is mandatory! The harness does not need to be fancy. Flat webbing is fine. Make sure your dog is used to the harness before arriving at class. We highly recommend pairing the harness with lots of treats. So, every time you get the harness out, the dog gets a treat…and every time you slip the harness over his/her head, the dog gets a treat. You get the picture! (and please do not hesitate to contact us if you need help finding a harness.
  • Bring your dog’s favorite toy (if your dog has a good play drive, this is the first choice!) or your dog’s favorite treats (if your dog is more excited about food than toys)
  • Bring a 6 foot (minimum) flat webbed leash (or something similar) – in other words, no chained leashes as you’ll need something that slides nicely through your hand.
  • If you have it, bring a 12 foot lead that is comfortable and light (we have a couple extra so this is not mandatory).
  • Bring extra TREATS! We recommend pea sized soft treats such as cut up cheese, cut up frankfurters, or whatever else your dog loves.